Before

Thanks KB

Did she dance or fall, steps choreographed
By gods or devils, before the moon’s birth;
Her hands stained by fruit already bitten?
I cannot know, because I am no Eve.

I do not remember innocence.
I was never in any first garden,
This life sprung from dust and breath blended
Before I knew death was hungry.

I was never in any first garden,
Tasting temptation and finding it sweet
Before I knew death was hungry
And death grinds our bones for bread.

Tasting temptation and finding it sweet
On my lips a fruited kiss-stung acid
And death grinds our bones for bread
That beauty is in the breaking of.

On my lips a fruited kiss-stung acid
This life sprung from dust and breath blended
That beauty is in the breaking of.
I do not remember innocence.

I cannot know, because I am no Eve
If we were betrayed or freed by that choice
To sample sin and learn what’s forbidden,
Her hands stained by fruit already bitten.

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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26 Responses to Before

  1. Hmmm … this reminds me of Adam’s first wife, Lilith … a thought-provoking offering …

    • Oh–no, you aced that Lillith–this is his second one–choices she made and all. Thanks for commenting. Of the two, I prefer Lillith’s refusal to submit.

      • The lines that made me think of Numero Uno, were: ‘Before I knew death was hungry / And death grinds our bones for bread’, which to me seems to encapsulate what happened to Lilith ~ but I can see it from Numero Deux pov too ~ it must have felt like that to her, subservience and all …

  2. claudia says:

    I was never in any first garden,
    Tasting temptation and finding it sweet
    Before I knew death was hungry…this is just excellent…oh eve…i wish she had chosen differently…but then…what had i done in her place.. i don’t know..

  3. Wonderful poetic form, Susan. The words themselves are deep and powerful. If only Eve had not succumbed. I wonder where we will be then as mankind. For with that knowledge of nakedness, we were born in sin. 🙂

    • I wonder where we would be–the price of rebellion was death, which I do not know was a fair trade–but, what is done is done, and there is redemption to be had. If there had been no sin, we would have no need of salvation. Hmmm. You are making me think, woman.

  4. davidtrudel says:

    I love this – beautiful, haunting and mysterious.

    • Thank you, David. I initially wrote the pantoum for this (the sequence of repeated lines, like a nonstop refrain, this summer. It needed more. So glad it has the more it needed now 😉

  5. Alice Keys says:

    Although I’m haunted by the images I am also intrigued by the form of this poem. It’s beginning and end turn into one another like a mobius strip. Did you make this form up yourself or is it a previously known pattern for poetry? Thanks for your work on this one..
    Alice

    • Alice–the form of the middle stanzas is a pantoum–the beginning and ending stanza is a form I made up on the spot 😉

      I have to thank KB for suggesting I close with something that made the piece complete. However, I felt it was not complete without an opening stanza echoed in the close. Glad you liked this. Google pantoum–I used the form, without observing much meter and disregarded rhyme. I love what the form can do to add or create musicality to strong language.

  6. Miriam E. says:

    Susan, this is so good! I love the intensity of your words… I think i got a new favorite.

  7. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    I really like the rhythms you are working with here. I think you are much more gifted at working with rhyme and with cadences than you have given yourself credit for. Keep at it!

    • Jeremy, thank you! You and someone else nudged me where this one needed to go–so thanking you both!

      Hmmm. Cadences, yes. Meter, yes. Rhyme–elbows getting itchy already… Seriously, though, I am all right with exploring rhyme, but just cannot see myself doing more than one rhymed piece a month (it would be the death of me, I think 😉 ) Some people seem to breathe it and create wonderful things with rhyme. Mine always seem forced to me.

      • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

        I like near rhyme; I like the idea of incorporating it but not allowing it to dictate where a piece should go. I find that the more I immerse myself in words, the more likely I am to be surprised by the rhymes that will pop up and -in some cases- work to drive a composition. Obviously you should do what you feel works, I just think that you have hidden talents to explore which may open up other techniques, other forms.

        • Thanks again, really, and I think you are right. Sometimes I get so caught up in a poem’s sound I don’t even realize I have strung rhymes together while building assonance or alliteration–that is always fun to do, and you are right–I should not let old fear get in the way of exploring all that is out there.

  8. 4th stanza for moi 🙂 excellent as usual Sus 🙂

  9. nelle says:

    That was a fun read with an excellent theme. Bravo!

  10. cfbrown (कवि) says:

    this is amazing

    • Chris, thank you. I pantoum-ed the middle portion in July, but a friend suggested I end with something to bring resolution, and I ended up bracketing the pantoum. I have to say I am very pleased with this poem. Glad you liked it.

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